Ballarat Nationals 2011

I am pleased to announce that l have been awarded the title of ‘Most Successful Exhibitor’ at the 43rd Ballarat Nationals 2011. My image ‘In The Wind’ won First in Section for the portrait category, and also won the title of ‘Reserve Champion Print’.

Country Victoria, Australia. Portrait of Allen

My Seascape image ‘So Close To Heaven’, won Second in Section for the Landscape category.

This win follows on from my success at the 7th Pakenham Nationals, where I was awarded the Title of ‘Most Successful Exhibitor’, Gold Medal Award for ‘Most Successful Print Exhibitor’ Best Colour Print, 2nd-best Landscape and 2nd-best Portrait. I am looking forward to a most successful 2012.

Darren J.

Returning from the Storm

Wow!!! What a great turn at the Great Ocean – Port Campbell weather really turned it on, two storm fronts in one day.

I slept in my car over near Gibsons Steps, set my alarm for 5.00am but was awoken from my sleep at 4.00 am by the sound of thunder and flashes of lightning cracking the sky open.
In a hurry, I made my way over to the 12 Apostles, set my gear up, ready to reel off a few frames just when the rain started to pelt down, the next hour was spent running to and from the shelter back to the viewing platform in between light breaks in the rain.

The rain was unforgiving and eventually I had to make my way back to the car. After 30 minutes, daylight was well and truly breaking and so was the rain, so I made my way back to try to capture some images. The heavy rains and storm had kept all the early birds and tourists away, which meant I had the area all to myself. It’s always good to hang in there and ride out the storm.

If possible, try to place yourself in an area where you will be the only photographer shooting. If there are others around you, scout around for your own unique view, that way nobody else will near replicate your image. Photography is all about having unique images that are original to the market, and the only way to do this is to find your own space out there.

The cloud action from morning till afternoon was amazing, a day in which I could go on shooting and never tire of the fleeting but dramatic changes in cloud form. It’s important to watch how and where the clouds’ movement is going; always keep your eyes open to all angles and scan 360 degrees constantly to make sure you are capturing the best moment and action – if not, chase it.

The afternoon brought about another severe storm, with the strong winds blowing my umbrella to pieces and the sand blowing off the rocks into my eyes and camera gear. The wind was vicious, but I have to say it was damn exciting.

Darren J.

Heading Back To Great Ocean Rd

I was about to start a new blog post about my photo trip to Guilin, China. But it seems like the weather conditions are looking good for the coastal areas around the Great Ocean Road, so I am heading out there for a couple more days; predictions for stormy weather (just the way I like it).
I have recently added a few new Great ocean Road images to my ‘Latest Images Gallery’ on my website, with the aim of adding a Great Ocean Road Gallery shortly. The Gallery will showcase all my best works from the Great Ocean Road.

Meanwhile here’s a couple of images until I arrive back from Great Ocean.

Darren J.

misty hues, great ocean rd, victoria, australia

stranded, port campbell, great ocean rd, victoria, australia

The Great Ocean

Over the last two weeks I’ve been able to spend five days along the Great Ocean Road. My first weekend, I headed out to Artillery Rocks, which is 12 kilometres outside of Lorne. The evening and morning shoots turned out to be a non-event due to continuous rain and dull cloudy weather. I’m ok with cloudy skies, but they need to have strong form and good contrast for me to get my camera out of the bag.

The Weather Bureau had been forecasting ‘possible storms’ for the area of Port Campbell, which is always a good to time to be out shooting, so I made my way to Port Campbell amidst more cloudy grey skies and light scattered showers, hoping the storm would pass early enough to catch some action whilst out photographing.

The evening shoot went well with the clouds lifting for a short time and the setting sun producing relatively good colour and light.

My energy was on high as I worked frantically to capture the rapid water movement as the high tide made its way into the shore. This is the time when I zone out from everything around me, totally absorbed in ‘the moment’, and all the elements start to gel together; locked in the zone.

I was out taking photos with another photographer named Greg, whom I had met shown the location where I was shooting, so he joined me. After our shoot he mentioned that for the first 15 minutes he had been feeding off my energy. Such is the case when I’m out there – my instincts take over, guiding me and my photography.

custom made, port campbell, great ocean rd, victoria, australia

The passing storm and lightning arrived well after my shoot (11pm), while the next morning produced more cloud and light rain, however I still managed to shoot a few frames down at Gibsons Beach.

mixed emotions, port campbell, great ocean rd, victoria, australia

Mixed Emotions : Prints Available

The second weekend away, which I have recently returned from, was over at Port Campbell. Three days of constant cloud, wind and driving rains (again) meant that my camera was kept dry in its bag most of the time. With my frustration mounting and fears growing that I may never see the sun again, 30 minutes before sunset on my last evening shoot the clouds decided to be a little accommodating.

I fell to my knees and cried for joy (only kidding, l didn’t really fall to my knees) I grabbed my gear and headed for the ocean, crying out like a madman. When you’re out photographing the Great Ocean Road, more often than not you’re dealing with grey skies. I’ve had a lot of disappointing outcomes over the years, but I keep going back.

Darren J.

survivors of the storms, 12 apostles, great ocean rd, port campbell national park, victoria, australia

Danshui ‘Freshwater’ City.

Whilst in Taiwan, it was mentioned to me that the city of Danshui was very popular for shooting sunsets. Taking into account a typhoon had recently passed through Taiwan, I was keen to be out photographing, capturing the after-effects from the typhoon. Danshui was the centre for shipping and commerce in the 19th century; now it’s more popular for viewing sunsets into the Taiwan Strait. It is named after a river whose name means ‘Freshwater’, offering both river and mountain views.

I caught the train from Taipei main station directly to Danshui, which takes approximately 45 minutes. The MRT(Municipal Rapid Transport) system is clean (due to not being able to eat, drink or chew whilst on the train), quiet and relatively fast – I was really impressed and enjoyed using the metro rail system.

A storm was brewing upon my arrival into Danshui, heavy clouds filled the sky and it was evident rain was not too far away. After 30 minutes of one of the heaviest downpours I have ever witnessed, the clouds began to break and brief glimpses of sunshine where seen throughout the day.

After spending the rest of the day visiting the shops and traditional Taiwanese stalls, I made my way over to the Danshui River to find a good location to shoot. Here you can see the the great views and catch the ferry boat to the Fisherman’s Wharf or Bali Village, famous locations when you visit Danshui.

And did I mention famous for photographing sunsets? Photographers everywhere. Standing room only – well that was until the rain started to fall again, this downpour only lasted 20 minutes and was nowhere near as heavy as the rain that had fallen earlier in the day.

Once the rain had passed, I was the only photographer to be seen. The clouds were providing some great mood and the light was ambient and deep blue, illuminating the scene before me.

I fired off a few 30-second exposures that captured the movement of the clouds and the ambient light filtering through, lucky enough to have the ferry boat cruise through at that moment to create movement and blur in the foreground.
I kept photographing the scene for another 30 minutes before heading over to shoot the Red Castle, which is over near Danshui Old Street, with its beautiful architecture and background of famous landmarks which include the Guan-yin Mountain and Danshui River.

Darren J.

The all conquering Ocean, part 2.

Although I was still armed with my back-up camera, I thought it was best to make my way back to Taipei and have Canon assess the damage; if they were able to bring the camera back to life, that meant leaving the camera with the technician for a few days.

In the meantime I managed to track down a 5D mkII from a hire shop in Taipei. Considering I was heading to China in 2 days, I thought it best to take the hire camera with me for the couple of weeks I was going to stay there.

Luckily I managed to keep the hire camera out of any deep water whilst in China. Canon had my camera fixed and ready for pick-up upon my return to Taipei – the bill for the repairs was quite substantial, costing over $1300.00 Australian. But I must say the camera is in better condition than when I first bought it.

My 16-35mm camera lens remarkably survived the accident, minus the auto focus and a nice grinding noise whilst zooming. The lens was only 3 months old, replacing another, due to a fall I had taken whilst photographing at the Great Ocean Road. I had slipped and my shoulder and face hit the deck (green algae and slippery rocks), camera and lens also hitting the deck – the lens snapped clean off the camera leaving the bayonet mount inside the camera. I lay on the rocks watching the sea water swallow the lens, the camera body sustained two large cracks but kept working.

I’ve had my fair share of slips and falls over the years, proving to be very costly indeed. Luckily I have avoided any serious physical damage upon myself, could have been a whole lot worse.

Best thing is to take care whilst out there, never think you’re invincible and that it won’t happen to you. The ocean is a force to be reckoned with; always watch your step and keep an eye on the incoming waves and tide, be cautious at all times.

Darren J.

my tears are like cobwebs over the sea, keelung, north east coast, taiwan

The all conquering Ocean

I recently returned home to Australia after spending 4 weeks in Asia – two weeks in Taiwan and another 2 weeks in Guilin, China. My first stop was Taiwan, the first week was spent in Taipei, catching up with my partner’s family and friends.

I was eager to make my way over to the North-East coast of Taiwan, the city of Keelung, where the coastline is rugged and menacing due to the many Typhoons and strong winds around the region (a typhoon was making it’s way through the South of Taiwan whilst we were in Taipei). The rock formations are quite amazing and the swells are mind-blowing, I was in total awe of the prospects for great seascape photography.

Upon our arrival in Keelung I hired a motorbike and hit the coastline, scouting for some destinations to shoot. Unfortunately, the weather and conditions were not in my favour, with lots of haze and very little cloud form to create mood. My third sunrise shoot was looking really good with nice cloud cover and soft morning light, creating soft hues with the high tide on its way in.

I planted my tripod heavily in the sand, a tiny black and grey variety which took a brilliant-looking sheen when wet. The waves started coming in a little stronger at that moment so I decided to take a couple of steps backward and tripped over a rock that happened to be at the base of my feet behind me, toppled over with tripod and camera in tow and a wave following, engulfing me and camera.

The next thing I knew I was desperately dragging myself and camera up from beneath the surface of the water; I was in shock, realising what had just happened. The shutter was still firing away as I must have tripped it on whilst falling. The rest of the morning was spent in a daze as I tried to console myself, for I still had 3 weeks of travel ahead of me without my canon 5d mkII.

Two images posted from the morning shoot, one had been taken whilst the camera was under water and one image taken before the accident. I will continue with the saga and rest of my travels shortly.

Darren J.

I'm into you, north east coast, coastal region, keelung, taiwan

I'm into you : Prints Available

Coastal region, Keelung, Taiwan